‘Business’ talk

PMG Megan J. Brennan addresses on-the-job safety, the Postal Pulse employee survey and several other topics in her latest “Business Focus” video.

She reminds employees to stay alert and practice defensive driving now that schools are back in session.

“Be aware of your surroundings — whether you’re on-the-clock or off — because your safety matters,” Brennan says.

The PMG also encourages employees to complete the Postal Pulse survey, which USPS uses to measure engagement in its workplaces. The latest survey is due Sept. 15.

“We use your views to improve your workplace environment. Tell us what you think. We need to hear from you,” she says.

Other topics discussed include service level improvements, declining mail volumes and the Postal Service’s response to these changes, efforts to return USPS to financial stability, and National Postal Customer Council Week, which is Sept. 25-29 this year.

Additionally, the PMG highlights Informed Delivery, a feature that provides consumers with digital previews of their incoming mail, and new stamps, including the Father Theodore Hesburgh stamp.

“Building excitement about our stamps is good for our business and a way to connect with our shared history and heritage,” she says.

Taking care

USPS vehicle stops near mailbox amid storm debris

In the midst of major hurricanes, PMG Megan J. Brennan is thanking employees for their recovery efforts and encouraging them to stay safe.

“The safety of our workforce is paramount,” the PMG said. “We want every employee to stay out of harm’s way whether on-the-clock or off.”

USPS is continuing to restore service in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which caused severe flooding in Houston and other areas. Delivery has resumed in areas that are safe, while some Post Offices are offering pick-up mail service for affected customers.

“Our employees are working tirelessly to deliver medicines, supplies and other critical mail in Texas. They are providing the best possible service, even as they are affected by the storm themselves,” Brennan said.

The PMG commended Southern Area VP Shaun Mossman and his leadership team for their efforts to restore service in Harvey’s aftermath while preparing for Irma, one of the strongest Atlantic Ocean storms ever recorded.

Irma has affected USPS operations in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and could strike Florida and other states this weekend.

Employees can check the USPS Service Alerts page for the latest updates on facility closures and operations.

“Preparedness is part of the Postal Service’s mission,” Brennan said. “We have plans and procedures in place to deal with major emergencies and ensure we can continue delivering for our customers.”

Additionally, the PMG wants employees to remember they can make one-time financial contributions through the Postal Employees’ Relief Fund (PERF) to specifically aid USPS colleagues.

This special solicitation is outside the Combined Federal Campaign, the annual charity drive for federal workplaces. The PERF site has more information.

“PERF is an important resource for employees suffering storm-related hardships,” Brennan said.

Safe havens

Two postal inspectors stand in meeting room

The Postal Inspection Service is playing a crucial role in the efforts to restore mail and package delivery after Hurricane Harvey.

Inspectors are assessing Post Offices and other facilities for damage, checking delivery routes to make sure they’re accessible, and protecting property from being stolen.

“We’re here to help minimize the risks to our employees while helping assess and safeguard Postal Service assets,” said Gerome Provost, a Houston inspector.

About 90 inspectors have handled Harvey-related duties in the storm’s aftermath, including several from outside the Houston area who came to help.

It’s a full-time job — and then some. The inspectors gather at an operations center in Houston each morning to receive assignments, including morning and afternoon shifts.

“A lot of our people have been doing 13-, 14-hour days. We’re just trying to get the job done while keeping people safe,” said Miguel Montalvo, a Houston-based Inspection Service team leader.

Silvia Torres, also a Houston inspector, said it’s been heart-wrenching to see so many postal colleagues affected by the storm.

“We know them personally,” she said.

Southern Area VP Shaun Mossman said he appreciates the focus on safety.

“Hurricane Harvey was a powerful reminder that the Postal Service is a family,” said Mossman. “It’s been very encouraging to see employees throughout Houston District, and the entire Gulf Coast region, pitch in to help each other out. I’m proud that our employees are focusing on doing their jobs safely, which is the most important thing. We’re all in this together.”

Need to know

Two USPS employee raise flag

Flag notices. The Postal Service is reminding managers and employees about flag display requirements for two days in September:

• Patriot Day, when the nation pauses to remember the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is Monday, Sept. 11.

USPS facilities are required to fly the flag at half-staff this day, which is also known as the National Day of Service and Remembrance.

To fly the flag at half-staff, hoist the flag to the peak for an instant and then lower it to the half-staff position. The flag should be raised to the peak again before it’s lowered for the day.

• POW-MIA Recognition Day, which honors the sacrifices made by members of the armed forces held as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action, is Friday, Sept. 15.

Postal Service facilities are required to display the POW-MIA flag, which must fly below the U.S. flag. The U.S. flag and POW-MIA flag should be flown at full staff on POW-MIA Recognition Day.

For additional information, refer to the Postal Service’s guidelines on U.S. flag display and maintenance, as well as the requirements for displaying the POW-MIA flag.

Storm watch. Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic Ocean storms ever recorded, is affecting postal operations in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The storm could strike Florida and other states during the weekend. The USPS Service Alerts page has more information.

Ethics update. The Postal Service’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month guidelines for 2017 are now available on the Ethics Blue page.

Got news for “Need to know”? Email your submissions to uspslink@usps.gov.

Remain vigilant

Fleet of USPS vehicles

The Postal Service is reminding employees to make workplace security a high priority, part of the organization’s effort to mark National Preparedness Month.

You can help keep your workplace safe by securing your facility’s entry points when they’re not in use, always wearing your USPS photo ID badge, and keeping an eye out for strangers and visitors who aren’t wearing badges.

Employees should also:

  • Secure unattended USPS vehicles and trailers, and immediately report stolen or missing vehicles to the Postal Inspection Service
  • Ensure alarms and camera systems are operational
  • Maintain a master, arrow and vehicle key inventory, and ensure all keys are accounted for at the end of every day
  • Follow all procedures for mail acceptance, and report any suspicious items to the Inspection Service
  • Confirm all collection boxes, lobby mailboxes and collection receptacles have current, legible Aviation Mail Security Decals (DDD-1s)

For further information, contact your facility’s security control officer. The USPS National Preparedness site has additional guidelines and tips.

News quiz

Father Theodore Hesburgh stamp dedication ceremony.

Here’s Link’s latest “News quiz,” a weekly feature that invites readers to test their knowledge of recent stories. The correct answers appear at the end.

1. On which commission did Father Theodore Hesburgh, the subject of a new stamp, serve?

a) Commission on Presidential Debates
b) Federal Communications Commission
c) U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
d) U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

2. Fill in the blank: USPS employees can make financial contributions to the (blank) to help colleagues whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Harvey.

a) Employee Assistance Program
b) Employee Engagement team
c) Postal Employees’ Relief Fund
d) USPS Wellness team

3. What’s the deadline to complete the Postal Pulse employee survey?

a) Sept. 8
b) Sept. 15
c) Sept. 30
d) Whenever you get around to it

4. True or false: Cash donations are encouraged during this year’s Combined Federal Campaign.

a) True
b) False

5. Match the employee in Column A with his or her heroic act in Column B.

Column A
a) Pacific Area Sr. Legal Administrative Assistant Vivienne Hansen
b) Sulphur Springs, TX, Rural Carrier Associate Mary Humphrey
c) Rush City, MN, Rural Carrier LeAnne Valvoda
d) Fort Worth, TX, Distribution Operations Supervisor Daniel Crowell and Mail Processing Clerk Cheryl Lemme

Column B
I) De-escalated a domestic assault
II) Performed CPR on a collapsed co-worker
III) Rescued a paralyzed woman who fell onto trolley tracks
IV) Saved customers who didn’t know their house was on fire

Answers: 1) c. 2) c. 3) b. 4) b. 5) a. III., b. IV., c. I., d. II. 

Look for a new quiz next week and share your feedback with Link at uspslink@usps.gov.